My girls got into modeling and commercials when my eldest daughter Chloe was 3 and Ella was 6 months. I had been stopped by a photographer on the street who referred us to our agent. I took Chloe on her first audition for Gap and she booked it. From there they have gone on to work on dozens of large national campaigns for television and print.
I get asked a lot by parents how to get their kids started in modeling, so I thought I would do a series of posts on the subject.
The first question to ask is not “How do I get my child started?” The first question is “Are modeling and commercials right for my child?”
Modeling and doing commercials is fun, but it is also work. It is not fun at all if your child does not enjoy it. I learned that Ella did not like it at all and her work permit (the paper from the city of San Francisco that allows her to miss school to do jobs) has long expired.
Here are some qualities in children that may work for this industry. Cuteness and beauty are not the main factors.
CAN FOLLOW DIRECTIONS
-Can your child easily follow directions? Are they happy to please? Do they respond to praise and positive control? Those are all musts. Your child will be working with adults. Most of these adults are very kind and do realize they are working with a CHILD, however your child must be able to follow directions and behave. This is a business and they need to get the shot in the timeframe they have allotted.
FLEXIBLE -At auditions and while on set there is a lot of waiting time followed by intense activity or vice versa. Can your child adapt to that easily? Can you?
-Your children will be working with strangers most of the time. Are they shy? If so, it won’t work. It’s best if your child easily opens up to people.
NOT FIRMLY COMMITTED TO SOME OTHER ACTIVITY
-You may not find out about jobs or auditions until the afternoon before. Soccer practice, dance, swim lessons, is your child flexible on these things? We have turned down some things because Chloe has gotten more involved in dance, art and athletics after school but you can’t turn down every audition so something’s gotta give.
-Of course cuteness plays a big role in booking jobs, but it is not everything. A lot of it has to do with the personality of the child and how they will interact with the people who pick the talent for their project. Chloe has charmed more directors and photographers than I can count. Ella is incredibly photogenic but would just frown.
The next question:
IS MODELING YOUR CHILD RIGHT FOR YOU?
Where are the casting offices in your area? Close? Far? Are you willing to drive there? For me the casting offices are 10 minutes away. I don’t have a life that would allow me to drive an hour each way to audition. Do you have the availability to take them to auditions and bookings? Are you ok with your child’s face or image being used in advertising? These are all questions to ask yourself.
The income Chloe has made from modeling has been pretty good. There have been some years where between, me managing the girls and booking my own work we have made a substantial contribution towards family expenses and saved a lot for college, however one child working does not produce that much money unless they are working large national commercials. Chloe’s first job paid $260. That seems like a lot, but that was about 8 hours of work for me just on that one job. You may be thinking, “ok, ok sorry I asked, it sounds awful”. Well it can be if it’s not right for you or your child. It can be a stressful tear inducing pain in the ass.
-Chloe loves it. It is something she is very proud of. She has learned to work with all types of people, follow directions and has a better work ethic than many grown ups I know. It has not affected her emotionally or made her vain. She has not missed a large amount of school either.
- The creative process can be amazing to watch. Working with artists, photographers, stylists and all types of different people has been very rewarding. I have learned so much these past 5 years.
- It’s fun. Chloe and I have fun when we are on sets together. We have fun when we go to auditions.
- You may be able to get some really great images of your kids. I have the most amazing shots of my children from their various projects over the years. You will not be able to get everything, but you can get some.
This was a fun shoot for Shutterfly with Stephanie Rausser. Chloe was on set for a long time and I am always amazed by her ability to do the same thing over and over and over and over.
I am sure there are some other things I am forgetting so be sure to ask me any questions you may have about the area in the comments below or over on my social networks. I will answer them or do a blog post on the subject of the question.
Top photo by Richard Schultz
Here is the next post on How to Find and Submit to Agencies.